A 'Care-Free' Aluminum Home in Portland Hits the Market

Let's face it: Aluminum isn't the sexiest building material. That's probably why, in the 1950s, the Alcoa company created the Care-free Home program. Some 24 model homes went up to showcase the low-maintenance material put to use in modern housing.

While the aluminum-housing craze never caught on beyond the model homes, the ones on the market are rare finds: The only one built in Oregon is in Portland, and it's available for $950,000.

Architect Charles Goodman was selected as the designer, with the quixotic goal of eventually building one in every state. (A local builder, W.C. Bauman, constructed the Portland home.) For inspiration, he consulted a 1956 Women's Congress on Housing poll that surveyed 103 women about their ideal home.

The result: a forward-thinking, ranch-style, open floor plan, with thousands of pounds of aluminum in the structure, including light switches, cabinets, doors, and even chimneys.

When you first see the 1957 property, you'll notice it looks just a tad different from the more traditional "Beaver Cleaver" -- era homes in the neighborhood, listing agent Margaret Dorman says. The aluminum panels are purple. The door is blue.

"They wanted colors in this house," Dorman says of the original designers. "It could not only hold things up, but (also) could be pretty."

It could also be indestructible. The roof is aluminum as is much of the hardware inside the house. Aside from needing a new carpet, the house has really held up.

Inside, the 2,800-square-foot space is warmed up by cypress wood, vaulted ceilings, and plenty of glass. In fact, almost every room has a sliding glass door that opens to the outdoors.

The open-air atrium is now glassed-in with skylights. A fourth bedroom was converted to a family room. Other than that, the home still has many of its original elements, from the open kitchen (with updated appliances), built-in bookcases, a wet bar, and a fireplace.

The homeowner, who bought the property in 1998, has decided to downsize, and she plans to do what the previous owners did: Pass the blueprints on to the next buyer, to "see what the original house was supposed to be."

"It really is an amazing home. You walk in, and you feel like you belong there," Dorman says.

And soon, a new owner, blueprints in hand, will experience living in a care-free aluminum-filled home.